How much water and fertilizer needs agricultural land for a successful harvest? Which nutrients are in the soil, which ones are lacking? ttz Bremerhaven and nine partners of the EU-funded project “OPTIFERT” present the development of a fully integrated on-demand fertigation system.
A unit of three chips for the measurement of NO3, NH4, K and PO4 (chip size 16 mm x 26 mm).
Foto: OPTIFERT Projekt
OPTIFERT mixing and dosing unit at the test site.
Foto: OPTIFERT Projekt
A soil nutrient sensor for the combined measurement of macronutrients at the field will correct the required crop growth model embedded in a fertigation software. The calculated fertilizer requirements will be delivered by a mixing and dosing unit specifically developed for open field crops.
In modern agriculture the amount of nutrients in soil is commonly adjusted by the application of fertilizers. The fertilizer dose has to be carefully adapted to the plant demands, since under-supply as well as over-supply lead to reduced yield. In addition, excessive use seriously harms the environment if fertilizers are not taken up by crops but get washed into ground water. In order to apply the appropriate amount of fertilizers, precise knowledge of nutrient concentrations in the soil and plant needs is required.
At the moment open field crops are fertilized using slow-dissolving solid fertilizer, applied while sowing in an experience-based quantity. Once the fertilizer is applied, the farmer has no control on the rate in which it is dissolved and so when it is available for the plants, or has the possibility of correcting the dose during the growth of the crop.
A system for calculating and applying on-demand fertilizers in open field crops, together with a fast and simple method for the routine surveillance of these nutrients is not yet available. “A system like this can also help us farmers to save time. We can control it with the computer in our office, and that way we have more time to do other things equally important.” Frank Hausmann, Farm Manager at the OPTIFERT test site.
Fertigation system comes with three modules
The full fertigation system contains three modules: composed of first: A soil nutrient sensor system for the combined measurement of NO3, NH4, K and PO4 at the field. For the measurement, a soil sample is suspended in a universal extraction liquid. After filtration, the amount of dissolved nutrients is measured in this liquid. In this way, only a single extraction procedure followed by a single measurement is required, minimizing the work for the generation of nutrient concentration maps and depth profiles.
Second: A software system which will receive the sensor data and process it together with crop growth models and weather data to calculate the required amount of fertilizers for each growth stage.
Third: A mixing and dosing unit, designed specifically for the requirements of an open field, and prepared to dissolve any needed fertilizer combination. The dosing unit can be coupled with any standard irrigation system, adapting the dose not only to the required amount of nutrients for each crop period but also to dynamically adapt to the variation of irrigation rate.
The three developed prototypes have been tested in a corn field in Brandenburg, Germany, during the season 2013. 25 Ha test site in this field has been fertigated using the OPTIFERT prototypes. The soil and plants have been monitored and analysed periodically during the whole season, as well as neighbour 25Ha reference test, which was fertilized under standard practice. Biomass samples taken at the end of August show 9% yield increase on the OPTIFERT test site. The performance of prototypes and test field have proven satisfactory.
The following partners are involved in the OPTIFERT project. Research partners: Vienna University of Technology (Austria), University of Bremen (Germany), University of Warmia and Mazury (Olsztyn, Poland), ttz Bremerhaven (Germany). Industrial partners: Pessl Instruments GmbH (Austria), Integrated Microsystems Austria GmbH (Austria), Soil Moisture Sense LTD (Great Britain), Hydro-Air GmbH (Germany), Agrargesellschaft "Niederer Fläming" mbH Petkus (Germany).
Movie about the project on euronews/futuris: Intelligent irrigation: growing green http://www.ttz-bremerhaven.de/en/research/environment/research-projects/1120-optifert.html
ttz Bremerhaven is an innovative provider of research services and operates in the field of application-oriented research and development. Under the umbrella of ttz Bremerhaven, an international team of experts is working in the areas of food, environment and health.Media Contact:
Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University
New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy